The 9 Best Games Set in New York

Image credit: Steam

If you’re going to set a game in an American city, and you hope to capture the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced city lifestyle in your game, there are not many better places to draw inspiration from than New York City.

New York is the most densely populated city in the country, so there is always a lot going on at the same time every minute of every day. The nights are as busy as the days, and everyone looks like they’re in a rush to get somewhere.

Drawing up a plot that can fit into this narrative sounds, on paper, pretty fun. It’s even better if the game is set in an open world so you can explore the environment without restrictions.

A decent number of developers have built games that were set in or inspired by the state of New York. Some of these games have maps that are so accurate that if you live there, you just might find your apartment or office building somewhere in the game.

In this guide, I’ve put together nine of the best games set in New York. You will be familiar with some titles, but I’m sure you’ll also find something that might have gone under your radar.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered

Assassin’s Creed 3 is the fifth major installment in the popular Assassin’s Creed series. The game was developed and published by Ubisoft in 2012 for the PS3, Xbox 360, Windows PCs, and Wii U.

If you did not play it back then, then you’re in luck because there is a remastered version that runs and looks better. That version was published for Windows, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One in 2019, and then on Google Stadia in 2021.

Assassin’s Creed games are known for bringing their own fictional twist to real-world events, and this one is no different.

The game is set in an open world that is viewed from a third-person perspective, and you’ll be parkouring your way across 18th-century New York.

That version of New York was a stronghold of the British Army during the American Revolutionary War, so the events of the game take place during that time period.

You play Connor in the main story, helping him in the fight against the Templars as they try to gain control of the colonies.

A number of Assassin’s Creed games cover this age-old struggle for power between the Assassins and the Templars, so this one is more of the same in that regard.

If you’ve played the game before, then the visual upgrades might not sound like enough reason to go back to it.

However, since you’re looking for the best games set in New York, traversing the city with a more polished environment compared to the original might be an idea worth exploring.

Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition

Marvel’s Spider: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition is a collection of two excellent games set in New York: a remastered version of 2018’s Marvel’s Spiderman, and also Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales including all the extra content!

Now, while this collection is fantastic, it will obviously cost more than buying just one of the games. They’re both set in New York, so you’re still good to go if you decide to purchase just one of the two!

Marvel’s Spiderman was developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2018.

The game was initially only available on PS4, but a remastered PS5 version was launched in 2020, and a Windows PC version in 2022.

Of the two games, this older installment of the series has more to offer in terms of content, and the remastered version looks good enough to compete with the newer one.

Swinging across New York buildings offers a lot of vibrant detail, both in the foreground and on the horizon, and you can even tell just how much of a visual improvement the game received by the way Spidey’s suit looks.

Miles Morales is visually impressive too, particularly with its ray-tracing performance.

The story mode is much shorter than the regular Spiderman, but this is technically only a standalone expansion so it is to be expected. It offers more than a DLC would, but less than a regular full game.

Playing as Miles is a nice change of pace too. His personality differs slightly from that of Peter Parker, although they both seem to have a lot to say at the oddest of times.

Miles is thrown head-first into serious action from the get-go, chasing (and at times, riding!) the supervillain Rhino across the streets of New York following his escape from a prison convoy.

New York in these games is not a copy of the real thing, but there is more than enough to capture the hustle and bustle of America’s city that never sleeps.

Mafia II: Definitive Edition

Mafia II was developed by 2K Czech and published by 2K Games in 2010. At the time, the game was only playable on PS3, Windows, and Xbox 360.

A Mac OS X version arrived a year later, and then a Definitive Edition was published for PS4 and Xbox One in May 2020, a decade after the original.

Despite the obvious improvement in graphics, Mafia II Definitive Edition was not particularly well-received due to complaints of performance issues, especially with the frame rate.

However, there have since been patches and small updates to improve the overall experience.

Mafia II is the second installment in the Mafia series. The game is set in a fictional city called Empire Bay which draws heavily from American cities such as Boston and New York.

It’s sorta like the way we all know those GTA games are modeled after real-life locations such as Los Angeles and San Fransico instead of “Los Santos” and “San Andreas”.

Something else that makes Mafia II particularly interesting is the time period that the game is set in. This is one of the best games set in the 50s, and the events of the story take place between 1945 to 1951, to be exact.

The story follows a mobster and war veteran known as Vito Scaletta as he finds himself caught in the middle of a power tussle among the Mafia crime families in the city.

With everything going on, Vito must find a way to make money to pay off his father’s debts and improve his own standard of living.

The story is arguably the best thing about Mafia II, which is no stain on the gameplay in any way.

Empire Bay does its best to reflect what New York would have looked like in the 40s and 50s with the types of vehicles plying the streets, and the outfits of the people in the city.

The location features an open-ended map that stretches across four square miles, and you will notice some famous landmarks on it, including the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge.

Tom Clancy’s The Division

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a third-person action role-playing game developed by Massive Entertainment and published by Ubisoft in 2016. The game was released for Windows PCs, PS4, and Xbox One.

The premise of The Division is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

A viral pandemic is always a scary situation for any city, but when the city is one of the most populous and densely-populated in the entire country, it’s a different ballgame entirely. That’s exactly what happens here.

The game is set in New York City, and it follows the events that occur after a viral pandemic breaks out in the city.

You play as a Special Agent of the Strategic Homeland Division, and your job is to figure out what led to the outbreak and help rebuild what is left of the city while combating the increased crime rate resulting from the situation.

To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into details about how the outbreak happened, but the virus itself is known as the “Green Poison”. It spreads at an incredibly high rate, and only about 5% of the population is immune to it.

Speaking of the setting itself, you’re free to roam the streets of New York City in this game.

A lot of the action occurs in Midtown Manhattan, so you’ll be spending a lot of time there. You will also spend some time in Brooklyn, and there are a handful of real-life locations and landmarks to spot.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Apparently, viral pandemics are not the only things that virtual New York residents have had to suffer through to survive.

In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Manhattan is a major plot point (or, at least, a burned-down version of it). If you’ve ever wondered what New York City would look like if a nuclear blast took it apart, wonder no more.

Wolfenstein II is the sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order. The game was developed by MachineGames and published by Bethesda Softworks in 2017 for the PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs, and a Nintendo Switch version was released a year later.

In the first game, New York was destroyed with a nuclear bomb by a character known as The Punisher, and hundreds of thousands of people died.

The New Colossus continues from where the previous story stopped, so everything looks dilapidated.

The Statue of Liberty is underwater somewhere, and there are corpses all over the place. It’s a pretty grim sight, but it sets a realistic backdrop for this first-person shooter cum action adventure.

The story of the game is based on an alternate version of events following the victory of the Nazis in World War II.

Your character is William Blazkowicz, a war veteran whose mission is to contribute to the efforts to overthrow the reign of the Nazis in the United States at the time.

Wolfenstein II received a lot of praise for the story progression, setting, and visual presentation. There is quite a bit of gunfire exchange, so it is nice to see that the shooting mechanics are very well done too.

If the idea of a post-war New York sounds appealing to you, then you have to give this one a try.

Prototype 1 & 2

Prototype 1 & 2 are single-player action-adventure games developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Activision.

The first game was originally published for PS3, Windows, and Xbox 360 in 2009 before a remastered edition was published as part of the Prototype Biohazard Bundle for the PS4 and Xbox One consoles in 2015.

Prototype 2 was originally published in 2012, and the remastered edition is also part of the Biohazard Bundle previously mentioned.

Both games are set in an open-world New York and they feature several landmarks such as the One New York Plaza, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building.

You can roam freely and even engage in sandbox-style activities to really get the feel of Radical Entertainment‘s take on the state.

In Prototype 1, you play as an amnesiac shapeshifter named Alex Mercer. Alex sets out on a mission to use his powers for good by stopping an outbreak of a plague that mutates people into violent monsters. That plague is called “Blacklight”.

Prototype 2 features a new main character called James Heller. James, like Alex, is also a shapeshifter, so he can take on anyone’s identity easily, complete with their memories.

Although his mission is the same as Alex’s (to destroy the plague), James has a personal vendetta against him as he blames Alex for his role in the death of his family by Blacklight.

The Prototype Biohazard Bundle includes both games with DLC. This remastered collection is not much improved from the original games in terms of gameplay, performance, or even graphics, so you may want to pass on it if you’ve played them before.

However, if you’ve never done so, then these are two of the best games set in New York that you can try out.

Crysis 2 & 3

Speaking of remastered collections, Crysis Remastered Trilogy did a significantly better job at improving on the original games than Prototype Biohazard Bundle did.

For the sake of this guide, I have placed emphasis on Crysis 2 & 3 in the review title because those are the games set in New York, but it is worth getting the trilogy as a pack instead of the two games alone separately.

Both games are first-person shooters developed by Crytek and originally published by Electronic Arts (Crytek published the remastered trilogy).

Crysis 2, the second main installment in the series was released in 2011 while the sequel was released in 2013. The remastered trilogy was published nearly a decade after that, in 2021.

In Crysis 2, you play as Alcatraz, a Force Recon Marine in New York City. This version of NYC is set in the year 2023, after an outbreak of the Manhattan virus by technologically advanced alien invaders known as the Ceph.

The Department of Defense decides to nuke Manhattan as a way to curb the situation, but Alcatraz helps to ruin the effort by wiping out the Ceph instead.

Crysis 3 follows the story of a new main character known as Prophet. The Alpha Ceph escapes imprisonment and Prophet sets out to kill it and end the alien race once and for all.

By the end of the game, he merges with the Nanosuit from Crysis 2, wielding all its powers to become a superhuman.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) is a pretty popular franchise, and not just in video gaming. The likable characters have been featured in movies and books, forming a part of pop culture across different generations.

As of 2022, the latest offering featuring the group is a side-scrolling beat ’em up that features New York City as a major plot point. It was not particularly news as NYC is a key part of previous books and movies for TMNT, but it was a welcome development nonetheless.

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge was developed by Tribute Games and published by Dotemu in 2022. The game was published on five major platforms, including Windows and Linux PCs, the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.

The cartoonish style of the game means that you’re not going to get photorealistic representations of NYC locations and landmarks, but it also helps the game designers to bend reality at will and really get creative with the process of designing the world.

In between those creative liberties taken with 80s Manhattan, there are also several real-world additions such as the Central Park Zoo, Channel Six News, and Coney Island. It’s a nice blend of fiction and reality which suits the premise of the game perfectly.

Each TMNT character in this pixel-art style game has its own set of unique characteristics and abilities, so your experience with the game when playing each one will vary.

The game can be played in Arcade or Story mode which is fairly self-explanatory, and it supports online and local co-op multiplayer mode as well (four on PlayStation and up to six on other platforms).

Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Lego Marvel Super Heroes is a multiplayer Lego-themed action-adventure developed by Traveller’s Tales and published by Warner Bros. Interactive (Feral Interactive for macOS).

The game was launched on PS4 and Xbox One in 2013, macOS, Nintendo 3DS and DS in 2014, and Nintendo Switch in 2021. With that release timeline and the advancement of console graphics in that time, my biggest recommendation would be to play it on the Switch if you have that.

The gameplay here is similar to other Lego games with a mix of puzzle-solving, action, and adventure. The story features several Marvel heroes working together against Doctor Doom, Loki, and their own team of supervillains.

New York (Manhattan, to be exact) is the main hub of Lego Marvel Super Heroes. You can explore this Lego-themed city to your heart’s content after completing the campaign, and there are some sights to see.

Marvel locations such as Stark Tower, Daily Bugle, X-Mansion, and Fisk Tower feature in the game, as do real-world locations and landmarks such as Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building, Status of Liberty, Grand Central Station, and even Marvel Headquarters.

Of the games in this guide, this one probably features more landmarks than any other, and that contributes to making it one of the best games set in New York.